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May 10, 2011 08:23 PM UTC

Pot DUI Law Rejected, Lundberg Oddly Reasonable

  • 10 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

As the Colorado Independent’s Joseph Boven reports:

The Colorado Senate killed a bill that would have established a legal limit in Colorado to the amount of THC drivers can have in their system. Lawmakers on the right and left who voted against the bill felt they were attempting to make policy without adequate information. House Bill 1261, sponsored in the Senate by Grand Junction Republican Steve King, died  20 nays to 15 ayes.

Sens King and Lakewood Democrat Betty Boyd argued in favor of an Appropriations Committee’s decision to reinstate the bill’s original language, which created a THC limit of 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood. That move failed to satisfy. The Senate chose instead to vote on a version based on a Judiciary Committee report that said the science was not yet strong enough to support imposing a nanogram limits on marijuana users. They then voted the bill down.

“Some on the Senate Judiciary members got bamboozled by marijuana users who don’t want to see any limits,” King said.

Be that as it may, it seems a legitimate question arose about the persistence of the active ingredient in marijuana, Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, at detectable but not intoxicating levels in a medical user’s bloodstream. The objection that ultimately killed this bill, as we understand it, was not a lack of desire to keep the roads safe from intoxicated drivers, but whether or not the standard set in the bill would prevent even people who haven’t smoked pot a considerable period of time, thus presumably quite safe to do so, from legally driving.

As the Independent’s Boven continues, this argument proved compelling to none other than arch-conservative Sen. Kevin Lundberg of Loveland–who, if you haven’t heard, has some documented trouble understanding (or at least accepting) scientific principles.

Lundberg said he had learned that medical marijuana was not like alcohol and that marijuana remained much longer in the system. He said lawmakers might be impeding on patient rights unnecessarily.

“To say that you can use [marijuana] but you can not drive ever-we have to be very careful when we go down that road,” Lundberg said.

Way to look at the science instead of knee-jerk presumptions, Senator Lundberg! While you’re on this newfound end-of-session reasonableness kick, let’s talk carbon dioxide.

Comments

10 thoughts on “Pot DUI Law Rejected, Lundberg Oddly Reasonable

  1. Big props to Sen. Lundberg.

    Lundberg has a wide libertarian streak that usually ends at drugs, but the testimony (actually smoking test) by the westword’s mmj columnist showed how weak the science was.

    Personally I am troubled by per se laws which punish a “state” and not “conduct”.

    For those smokers out there:  It is still illegal to drive under the influence of weed, it just isn’t defined by the numbers what is “under the influence” so be careful.

    1. these things always strike me as needless fights brought for nothing other than politics. If you can’t pass a sobriety test, you shouldn’t be driving. I don’t care if it’s because of liquor, weed, NyQuil, it doesn’t matter.

      Like texting and driving. It’s been illegal for quite some time to drive while distracted. Guess what you were charged with in 2005 if you caused an accident while screwing around with your phone. Here’s a hint: It wasn’t nothing.

      For the record, I’m not a fan of weed. I barely tolerate MMJ, but democracy means not always getting what you want. I’m also PAINFULLY aware of the consequences of driving while under the influence. Still think the bill is dumb.

  2. setting a very bad precedent

    Lawmakers on the right and left who voted against the bill felt they were attempting to make policy without adequate information.

    When did these people get it in their heads that having and understanding facts are requisite for making policy?  Sine Die immediately, these folks are exhausted and beginning to hallucinate.

  3. From a press release today:

    Attorney General decries Colorado Senate’s lack of leadership as it fails to pass a widely supported THC driving limit

    DENVER – Colorado Attorney General John Suthers decried the Colorado Senate’s inability to pass House Bill 1261, a widely supported proposal to set a per se limit for THC blood levels akin to Colorado’s 0.08 BAC limit for alcohol. The proposal, which died late Monday night on a voice vote, initially had been recommended by the bipartisan Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, which has acted as a clearing house for criminal justice reform. The legislation also had broad support from law enforcement groups.

    The limit that would have been set by House Bill 1261, five nanograms or more THC per milliliter of blood would have been the highest threshold among states that have set a per-se limit for marijuana use.

    “It is dumbfounding that the Colorado Senate could fail to pass a per se marijuana bill,” Suthers said. “There are approximately 125,000 Coloradans authorized by state law to use medical marijuana plus countless others who use the drug without state authorization. As the chief law enforcement officer of the state and a former district attorney, I have seen the damage people driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol can inflict. The Senate’s vote yesterday exhibited not only a lack of concern for the safety of Colorado drivers and pedestrians, but also an inability to lead.

    “The fact that some senators were succumbing to pressure from the marijuana industry while others may have been concerned the per-se limit was too high is no excuse for complete inaction on such a critical public safety issue.  This is yet another public policy failure by the General Assembly to enact appropriate marijuana policies in Colorado.”

    Suthers said he hopes lawmakers will again take up this issue in next year’s legislative session.

    1. So, we should immediately outlaw alcohol as it has killed millions of people.  AND we need to go after all these doctors that have over prescribed Oxycontin and Percocet.

      By his own admission he is failing at protecting Coloradoans and he should be fired immediately.

  4. “He nearly caused that accident by driving too slowly and the dog barely got away”.

    They wanted to cultivate another market but banning cell phones would have been too much.

  5. Who’d a thunk that common sense would prevail in any American legislative setting these days?  

    Setting an arbitrary THC level that is not based on proof of inabilty to drive would just be a back door way of limiting marijuana use.  That’s the kind of thing they do in Utah about DUI levels.  Congratulations to our legislators who used discretion and common sense.

    Hell weather forecast:  freezing.

    1. Bamboozled.

      (I’ve always dug the dapper look of the dude with the Panama Hat on boxes of Bambu rolling papers. Now, he looks like the sort who could bamboozle the shorts off of someone.)

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